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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  September 15, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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different theories, different distractions. we need to get down to business. we need to get serious about jobs. it's serious to know that the chronically unemployed, those that are unemployed, and we're going to get serious about you taking them seriously. thank you for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. texas hold 'em. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. leading off tonight, pay to play in texas. rick perry's awkward debate comment that he couldn't be bought for only $5,000 may be the least of his problems. nbc's michael isikoff reports that not only did perry get far more than that from the pharmaceutical company, merck, but that perry has been accused of a long history of running
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texas as a pay to play state. he accepts big campaign contributions from deep-pocketed supporters in exchange for favors that help make them rich. it could be the strategy to take down perry either before or after he's nominated. bob dylan said it, by the way, in 1965, and it applies today. you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing. and right now the wind is blowing hard into the face of democrats. in general, and at president obama in particular. how does the president turn it around? it's been done before. plus, here's senator demint's candid and cold calculation. if republicans support president obama's jobs plan, they'll bear responsibility for the success or not of those programs and the economy. however, if they oppose the president's plan, the worst the president can do is blame them for voting against his legislation. is that true? the "hardball" strategists break down the gop choice of strategies about helping the economy or helping themselves. and not since the know-nothing party briefly emerged about 160 years ago as a party, either party championed ignorance.
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but in today's republican party, it seems the lack of educational credentials has become its most important bragging point. and let me finish tonight with the consequences of voting before you think. we start with pay to play in texas. michael isikoff is nbc national news investigative correspondent and wayne slater is senior political reporter for "the dallas morning news." i want to start with michael, who's been working this whole story. let's go straight to some alleged pay to play examples from governor perry's time in office. he's been in the office for a long time. texas home builder, bob perry gave $2.5 million to perry's gubernatorial campaigns. what did he get? the entire state agency was created. the texas residential construction commission to restrict lawsuits against builders like him. dallas billionaire harold simmons gave perry $1.1 million. what did he get? a license for a controversial nuclear waste dump in west texas owned by simmons' company.
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texas accountant george brent ryan gave perry over $563,000. what'd he get? nearly $1 million in tax rebates for his company through an economic development board grant. well, there you have it. it looks to me like there's a pattern. we've seen this in cities in this country, a lot of big cities play this game. you give money to the politicians, you get what you want. developers do it, it's crooked as hell. but when you're running for president, can you defend it? and is this going to be a part of this guy's problems. >> one of the things that happened during the debate which was interesting is when michele bachmann, and actually, maybe it was her interview on the "today" show the next morning, referred to crony capitalism. she introduced an issue that into the political mainstream political dialogue that has plagued perry and swirled around perry during each of his most recent gubernatorial campaigns. this is a charge that democrats have brought against him time and time again. they've tried to get traction on it, but you know, there is, to some extent, in texas and in
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many southern states, this whole pay-to-play culture. and so it's not a completely new allegation. the question with perry is, how far did he take it? does it go beyond the norm? does it -- >> well, why is the norm okay? why is it okay to bring a guy into the white house who makes a habit, has grown up in a political culture, where if you want to meet the governor, you've got to go to the fund-raiser. and if you want to get action, you've got to get big money? why would an american voter, republican or democrat, you know, that's pretty cool, why would they say okay to that? >> well, look, it's certainly an issue that, you know, taps into public revulsion with the way government does business. >> how can you do business when you've been selling government? >> look, you're writing ads for the democratic national committee if perry becomes the nominee, with lines like that. >> it's a great way to make money. >> but there are some pretty eye-popping examples. and we picked out three, but
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there's like dozens of more. and i'm sure wayne can talk to them, because they've been amply reported in the texas press. you have no limits on contributions in texas, you have these huge donations from people like bob berry -- >> you're an investigative reporter, but you know the political context of this. you've already mentioned it. are the people around president obama, the smart guys out in chicago and in washington, are they looking at this? >> absolutely. as is every major news organization right now. and it's something we're going to be hearing time and time again throughout the campaign. >> i think we're trying to figure out who this guy is. because he does look attractive on several levels. let's go to wayne slater. you know the appeal of this guy, he's got that cocksure attitude. wayne, talk about this guy's behavior as an elected official. is he a guy who deals with insiders who pay to play? >> yes. the quick answer is absolutely. that has been his history, that is the rap against him. we've written an awful lot about these various deals, and the
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ones, as mike said, the ones you mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. there are a whole range of these, a lot of people have done very well. but here's what's different right now. if i go to chicago in the old daley years nobody is shocked, shocked if somebody gets a contract if they support the local ward boss. but perry, riding a tea party wave, which sarah palin reiterated yesterday, said this crony capitalism is a bad thing. we aren't part of giving public money, taxpayer money, to our friends. that's the wrong thing. this is the wrong year for perry to be shown, and it's going to be an extensive record before this is all over, to be shown as a guy who has done everything he can, really, for the political folks who have given him not just hundreds of thousands, but millions of dollars. >> okay, great point. >> were you surprised that he was so wrong-footed, as the brits say, to come out and say, do you think you can buy me for 5k? i'm more expensive than that.
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>> that's the punch line of the joke. we know what you are now, we're quibbling over price. >> the old line was over a hooker or something. but everybody remembered the old dproes joke when they heard too. like saying i have a price but it's higher than 5 k. therefore i'm clean. what? let's take a look at this. people that weren't watching that night. here he was on monday in the latest debate. these debates are fascinating. the president ought to watch with these debates. here he is deflecting criticism about his financial ties to this company, merck, that manufactures this vaccine, where the girls in public schools had to be immunized with. here's his defense. >> the governor's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. the drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor. and this is just flat-out wrong. >> the company was merck and it
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was a $5,000 contribution that i had received from them. i raise about $30 million, and if you're saying that i can be bought for $5,000, i'm offended. >> he wasn't bought for $5,000. how much money did merck give him? >> merck gave $28,500 to his gubernatorial campaigns, but another $377,000 to the republican governor's association during the time perry was chairman and finance chair. >> all right, you've got him. you've got him. >> there was a lot more money than that $5,000. >> so i can't be bought for 5, but they gave me $28,500 and $337,000. so why would he be so maladroit saying he couldn't be bought for 5, and he was given 28,500 on top of that amount and 337,000 when he was head of the republican governors from the same company? >> in preparation for the second debate, they went over this.
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what they expected was romney's going to come at him on social security. bachmann and maybe santorum will come at him first on immigration. then with respect to this merck deal, they thought that what bachmann was going to do was talk as this christian conservative, saying a bad thing because it's about sex and it violates these parental rights and this responsibility, and so forth. they did not expect bachmann to do what she did, which was quit artful, and that was to extend the debate not simply about the mandate and parental rights, but to crony capitalism. i want to say one other thing about the connections here. the lobbyist in this case is not just simply a lobbyist. he is someone who is a close associate and adviser to rick perry, was chief of staff at one point. years ago, in one of the land deals, toomey represented rick
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perry as part of the effort which helped make rick perry a millionaire. moreover, toomey and dave carney, rick perry's political guru, co-own an island together in lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire. and then toomey -- >> mitt romney -- >> mike toomey is now running the super pac, to make us great again, that is backing perry's campaign -- >> i'm not going to use words like that until we know more about this. but it begins to look like an oldtime situation. quickly, help the viewer now that is just learning this as we're presenting this news about pay-to-play methods down there if you will. what came first? did this company merck and these other enterprises go out and hire his chief of staff first? did he get the campaign from them first, do the deed for them first in terms of creating this agency and all this other stuff, in terms of giving the girls and young women these shots? what was the sequence of events, wayne?
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let's talk about merck and the shots. >> with the shots, basically what happened here was that merck decided in about 2006 they were going to do a national campaign at several state legislatures to get people to do this and they went to austin, came to austin and said, who's the best guy? who's the best connected guy? they said it's mike toomey, he's close to the governor, they hired him. that's when it happened. >> and then when they got the shots deal. they got the executive order? >> what was really extraordinary about it, though is this is something that offended perry's natural base, social conservative base. they were blindsided by this. he hadn't consulted with them or the state legislature. and what's even more unusual about it is it would have made texas the very first state in the country to mandate this vaccine. not something you would expect from -- >> i had uncle growing up and when he heard about this kind of corruption, wayne, up in philly, and heard about deal making between big shots and people who want to influence the big shots,
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he had a standard line. herb, it's like everything else. what the public in this country doesn't like to hear too often is that it's like everything else. because after a while when the public keeps hearing about corruption like this from the so-called clean guys, they really lose heart in our democracy. and this isn't a joke. if people think that's the way it always is it isn't. there are a lot of clean politicians out there, and if pay-to-play is the way you like your government, vote for this guy. thank you, mike isikoff, great investigative reporting. in fact, the best. you and bob woodward. wayne slater, thank you, sir, from the local point of view out there "the dallas morning news," thank you very much. things are looking grim, by the way, for the obama administration, but is it time to panic for them or time for a shake up? hear what james carville, the ragin cajun has been saying? should he really start firing and indicting people? carville has a very tough prescription for obama, that guy we're looking at right now to get out of the weeds right now. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ kristy ] my mom is well...weird.
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helping business, and the world...work. rethink possible. in his jobs speech to congress last week, president obama said construction companies all across america are just waiting to get to work and get people jobs. he mentioned one particular bridge that could use some help. well, today the white house announced that the president will visit the brent spent bridge that connects cincinnati and covington, kentucky, to sites, the trip is set for next thursday, and obama will give us another speech. it's his idea to be in boehner's back yard. not quite the congressional district, but close to home. you name it.
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welcome back to "hardball." it's no secret out there anybody watching this show knows that these are tough times for president obama. and just this week, a new field poll, the great poll out in california, a must-win state as well for barack obama and any democrat running for president, has his approval rating at below 50%. bad news.
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the news is bad or worse in other states, of course. the president's poll numbers nationwide coupled with a bleak economy that stays bleak places him in a perilous position as he gears up for 2012. everybody knows what i'm saying. so how does he turn things around? that's what we don't know. and for the democrats who are going to be running with him next year, they want to win too. let's ask two experts, willie brown, a great man, served as mayor of san francisco and led the assembly out there as speaker for so many years, and mike feldman a guy from philadelphia, an advisory to the clinton/gore white house. mayor? >> yes. >> your honor, i want to quote you some stuff from the ragin cajun, carville. longtime strategist james carville wrote a column that grabbed all of our attention. what should the white house do? he says, panic. "as i watch the republican debates, i realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation." i guess he's talking about perry. "i sit in front of the tv and shudder at the thought of one of
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these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, social security-cutting, clean air-hating, mortality-fascinated, wall street-protecting republicans running my country. the course we are on is not working. the hour is late and the need is great. fire, indict, fight." he's got some amazing proposals out there. fire somebody, indict some people. make a case like a democrat and hold fast to your explanations. what do you make of this, mayor, because i want your thoughts? how ferocious does obama have to be to turn this 180? >> i think he has to demonstrate that he is very, very tough. seldom, if ever, have you had a president who's waited so long to show truly his nature in terms of a fight. from the time he did not allow the bush measures to go by the wayside on the tax breaks that he should have last december until the present day, he hasn't taken one step to demonstrate
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how tough he really can be and how principled he can be and how, at all costs, in terms of his base support, he's willing to take steps he hasn't done that, and i think that's what jimmy is talking about. >> and that's what he's running on. basically, he's basically forced because he hasn't dumped the bush economic policies. they're the policies he has to defend. isn't that weird, michael? i always say to people who are republicans, okay, fair enough, but we're operating under junior tax policy. this guy hasn't changed it. it's what bush gave to him. all the tax cuts for the rich, all those breaks, obama hasn't busted them. he's living under their regime. >> but don't play by their rules and call them out on that. these are the policies that got them into this mess. next week, as you pointed out, going to cincinnati, going to john boehner's district -- >> is this tough enough at this point? >> i think it is. >> it's what i think he should have done. >> i agree. i applaud james carville, but
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panic is not something i would do as a commander of chief as the president of the united states. >> let's look at other thoughts. here's former white house spokesman, bill burton, who runs the group, priorities usa. he warned his fellow democrats, "democrats should be very nervous. they need to put on their war paint and get ready for what is going to be a very difficult battle. unless activists really engage and organize and recognize the stakes of this fight, it will be impossible for the president to win." mayor, again, this is the first time i've heard it, and i'll tell you, my concern about this election is that people say it's next november, it's november 2012. this is the time of year that we all know people begin to make up their minds about next year. it isn't all done in that booth. we saw it happen to jimmy carter in '79. they made up their mind and in '79 he had to go. >> they did make up his mind in '79, but i don't think people have made up their minds about barack obama. there's still great optimism that he can, in fact, cease his relationships with the
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republicans and try to placate them and go back to do things for his base, go back to address the issues that young people care about. go back to address the issues that independents are concerned about. and as somebody said to me on the day, if you want me to vote for your guy, get me a job. he's got to do this. >> well, can he run against the government? because it's not his government anymore. he can't get 60 votes in the senate anymore. he can't get 218 in the house. he doesn't have the government under control. he seems to run defending the government right now. why doesn't -- well, you're implying it, mayor, should he run against the government, which is the speaker of the house, boehner, the republicans control the congress, in effect. it isn't his congress. why doesn't he run against it and say, i want to be president of the country, and the only way i get that is get control of congress. >> that's exactly what i would do. i would be running as if i weren't even in washington, were i barack obama. and i think he's attempting to do that.
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he just hasn't shown the willingness to fight that people are looking for. i'm telling you, what republicans in the absence of the quantity of candidates on the other side, carville directly describes them, they are people that can't garner a majority under any circumstances. all barack obama has to do is make people believe that he is it. >> well, you know, mr. mayor, i believe in machiavelli, you're not supposed to say so. i'll go to mike feldman on this young fellow. i will tell you this, it's better to be feared than to be loved, machiavelli taught. and my argument is, if you're not feared, you're not loved very long. because leaders are supposed to be feared. if they're not feared by their enemies, people who like them don't love them. >> he's making an argument. he put a jobs plan out there -- >> is eric cantor afraid of him? is mccarthy afraid of him? is boehner afraid of him? >> next week, he'll be in john boehner's district, he'll be campaigning on his plan, he said, do you want an issue to
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run on or do you want to create some jobs? >> real bad news for the president that tends to trickle down. a long-term democratic spokesman, used to work for ted kennedy and a very good source said this about re-election prospects for democrats on abc's "topline." >> i'm sure glad i'm not working for a member that's up for re-election next year, because it's an ugly, ugly mood out there. >> and on "the hill" newspaper earlier this week, an unnamed democratic strategist said, "i'm warning my clients, don't run in 2012. i don't want to see good candidates lose by 12 to 15 points because of the president." that's fierce stuff. is it helping to have people from under the covers sticking their heads out and saying, we're screwed. is that helpful to wake up the president and his people? >> no, not at all. as a matter of fact, we ought to be talking about how we reverse the perception that there is something wrong with the democratic delivery system. let me tell you, chris, this is
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september 2011. when we talk in the same way we're doing today in 2012, march, april, may, or june, i think there will be a totally different perspective, because barack obama will have been in john boehner's face. we will have been all over this country, directing the activities that gets people jobs. >> all politics is local, sir, as we know from tip o'neill. thank you all. up next, how does stephen colbert handle the latest criticism of president obama's american jobs act? that's next in the sideshow. love colbert. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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obama's american jobs act was introduced last week, but here's a new one. the president's taking heat not for the contents of the bill, but for the way the pages are held together. what?! let's hear how stephen colbert took on this one. >> president obama's jobs bill, hot off the presses. at kinko's? hundreds of billions in tax hikes and new spending, bound together with a chintzy clip. look at that thing. >> come on, this is your jobs bill. that deserves a large, shiny binder. and instead, it's -- with the little clip. >> we need the good one from kinko's. >> yeah, why so chintzy? if he really believed in this bill, he should have presented it in a leatherbound volume with gold filigree and illuminated initials so the republicans had something presentable to dismiss before they ever look at it. >> really, there's a problem with the paper clip? give me a break, republicans -- or fox, whatever you call yourselves. and finally, come on, game on.
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gop candidate michele bachmann attracted ridicule this week for suggesting that the hpv vaccine could cause "mental retardation." well it wasn't just the politicos who raised their eyebrows at that one. now bioethicist bart kaplan has issued what he calls the hpv challenge. what's at stake, a hefty $10,000. "if she can produce a case in one week starting today verified by three medical experts that she and i pick of a woman who became retarded, her words, due to a hpv vaccine, i will donate that to a charity of her choice. she must donate $10,000 to a charity i pick if she fails to do so." maybe that's a little chintzy. $10,000? you think he would have a little more confidence in his product. and when did ignorance become bliss. in the republican party. is it now the know-nothing party? you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc of the ♪ ♪
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here's what's happening. a warm welcome in libya for the leaders of britain and france, the first heads of state to visit the country since the rebel uprising there. meanwhile, syrian opposition groups have banded together to form the syrian national council. the group says it's categorically opposed to getting outside help in its efforts to force the president from power. hurricane maria has just become the third hurricane of the atlantic season. she's expected to pass near new foundland on her way out to sea. a florida judge says casey
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anthony must pay almost $100,000 to compensate law enforcement for the investigation into the murder of her daughter caylee. the latest batch of birth control pills being recalled because of a packaging error that could lead to incorrect dosing. denmark has just elected its first female prime minister, a left leaning socialist democrat hla thorny schmidt. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." this is going to rip the scab off with all the conservatives watching. is there room in the modern republican party any longer for someone who's even slightly an intellectual? or has the gop become a party that celebrates ignorance? look at how the presidential candidates in the field proudly oppose mainstream scientific thought like evolution and global warming.
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look how they grow defensive when they get facts thorone abot history. jennifer rubin, a conservative blogger for "the washington post," i'm not sure she's that conservative, summed it up when she wrote today that some of the republican party seems to think ignorance is virtue and intelligence is a vice. she wrote, "republicans have sometimes mistaken anti-elitism with anti-smarts. it's one thing to happy scorn on liberal elites, who parrot unsupportable leftist dogma or who show contempt for ordinary american's values. it's quite another to celebrate ignorance. has governor perry shown himself to be knowledgeable and mature in these debates? nope, he's just reveling in the scorn, because he has mistaken mainstream and some conservative media criticism for confirmation that he really is doing something right?" what is going on here. michael steele is former chairman of the republican national committee and now msnbc analyst and alex wagner i think up in new york also an msnbc analyst. i am struck by this. here is michele bachmann talking about the implications of getting these shots done in texas that governor perry implemented by executive order.
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on the "today" show making very controversial and sharp comments about the hpv vaccine. let's watch. >> i had a mother last night come up to me here in tampa, florida, after the debate. she told me that her little daughter took that -- took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. >> and here's how she defended those comments later on sean hannity's radio show. let's listen. >> i am not a doctor, i'm not a scientist, i'm not a physician. all i was doing was reporting what this woman told me last night at the debate. >> "reporting"? what the hell does that mean?! parroting. reporting? as if she's engaging in some sort of study group. some nut case comes up to me about building seven and i ignore them. she comes on television, it's just been reported to me that this was a conspiracy. that president george w. bush
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blew up the world trade center. >> it wasn't like that. >> it isn't? >> no, i don't think so. i think what she was doing was trying to convey and relay to the audience more broadly speaking, not just to you, chris, the connection between the event that we're -- >> but there is no connection. >> oh, well -- >> there's no scientific -- >> this mother comes up to her -- >> there's never been a reported case of mental retardation -- >> but she doesn't know that. >> alex, get in here. >> she doesn't -- that's right. she doesn't know that. >> i think that that's a stretch, saying that she's trying to communicate some constituent's belief. i think that that's fearmongering about big government harming ordinary americans and intruding into their lives to the detriment of health. and i think, you know, there's a very big difference, chris, between being a populist and being intellectually irresponsible. and i think what michele bachmann did that night was intellectually irresponsible. >> i mean, you can argue whether or not she should have gone
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immediately without some level of verification or appreciation of what she was told. but you also have to understand the politics of the moment. after coming off the stage or before going on stage tomorrow having this conversation with a parent, who was probably upset about the situation, and telling her her personal story. you don't know that. what will verify all of this is if the mother and the child come forward. but the fact of the matter is you -- you've been on campaign trails and certainly i've been, people tell you a lot of things. the judgment call is what do you then go speak about. >> if i yell that this building is on fire right now and i just say -- >> chris, it's a completely different thing. >> she's on national television. >> chris, if you come up to me as a constituent and you say to me that i lost my job because this company fired me for this reason -- >> that's not the same as a scientific argument. >> the point is, whether it's a scientific argument or not -- >> there's a very strong pattern here, and it never ends. it's governor perry sitting with that little 8-year-old saying, you're smart enough to know the difference between evolutionism and creationism, you decide. give me a break! here's perry speaking at the
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college founded by jerry falwell. and some self-deprecating comments he made trying to make the point we make unsuccessfully to michael. the point is, i'm not intellectual. like you know he's a red neck if. let's listen. >> so i got my webster's out and i just looked up the word convocation so i would make sure i kind of understood what i was walking into here. i actually went to college to be a veterinarian, and the dean of the veterinary school advised me that i actually wanted to be an animal science major. he said, son, i'm looking at your transcript. you want to be an animal science major. so, you know, the fact of the matter is, four semesters of organic chemistry made a pilot out of me. i'm very proud to stand before you today and tell you i
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graduated in the top ten in my graduating class -- of 13. >> well, there are qualifications for president. >> he's having fun, for goodness sake. and you're showing your intellectual hubris by talking -- >> i never come off -- >> you're talking about the university -- you're talking about this university, well, there's a place of intellectualism -- you don't know what those students are learning at that school. go there and meet the kids. set that that aside for a moment. the governor is making the point that a lot of republicans have to deal with all the time from the intellectual left, that we're somehow dumb, stupid, or inarticulate on these issues and he's having fun with it. >> he's running for the president of the united states, claiming that ignorance is bliss. >> barack obama said there were 57 states. >> that's not the same thing. >> oh, of course not. of course it's not the same. >> i've got to disagree here, michael. i've got to disagree with you on this one. i think that rick perry has an incredible personal story. i think that nobody should denigrate how far he's come. but i think that there's a real difference between that and
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pointing to doing badly in school at a time when american students are ranked 25th out of 34 in the world on science and math and we are trying to move this country forward. and we are looking for someone to lead us there. and here is a guy making fun of doing bad in school and placing no emphasis on education and being aware of the world around you. >> well, we don't know what the rest of the speech was about to the room full of students. maybe he did talk about education. and i know i've talked about my own story at johns hopkins when i got expelled from the university, but got back into the university, and the rest of the story -- >> is it a qualification that you can claim this lack of knowledge to some strength -- bachmann does it, he does it, they all do it. it's a clamoring attempt to identify with regular people by acting like you're stupider than they are. >> it is not a clamoring attempt -- >> it is. it started with george w. bush's father. >> you're showing intellectual arrogance. >> how come a guy who goes to the -- >> why are you taking that lead? >> -- driven to school by a chauffeur, george h.w saying
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bidness instead of business. why do they mispronounce words? you know what they're doing. it's relentless. >> that's the way the man talk. come on. it's that southern texas drawl thing. >> right now in the world we're trying to compete with the chinese, the indians busting their butts to beat us in science and technology. they realize are the american people going to like the guy who is proud of the fact he doesn't know anything? >> chris, you're taking this way out of proportion. >> it's on every issue. >> it is not -- >> michael, you're a charming fellow and defending the indefensible. >> i'm not trying to defend, i'm trying to explain. >> you didn't get to be lieutenant governor by being -- i've got to move on. up next, the "hardball" strategist on to duke it out on matters of importance to us that do matter intellectually. this is "hardball" on msnbc. [ male announcer ] this is the network.
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marine veteran received the nation's highest honor. president obama awarded the medal of honor to meyer who lost some of his best friends that morning of september 8, 2009. meyer charged through heavy gunfire to save 13 marine and army soldiers and another 23 afghan troops pinned down by enemy fire despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm. we salute him and we'll be right back. look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, espresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it, though. i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that is easy. best news i've heard all day! i'm soooo amped!
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if you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill. if you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill. it starts with your help. >> welcome back to "hardball." that's the president out there, connecting, i think, feeling the love and taking his jobs plan to the people. but republicans have their battle plan ready. we're going to get to it with the "hardball" strategist right now. tonight, point one, are republicans smart to just say no to everything he proposes? and part two, rollins, ed rollins, dumps on his own candidate, bachmann. it happened here on "hardball" last night. tonight we're getting the strategist's reaction to both those issues. we'll start with steve mccain -- steve mcmahon is a democratic strategist, todd harris, a republican strategist. let's take a look at this first question. todd, is your party smart to just say no? quote after quote of people are saying, they think they can win by just screwing the guy.
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>> it's not just -- the republican party saying no is actually not the president's biggest problem right now. >> can you answer my question? is it a smart policy -- here's senator jim demint. here's demint. let's listen to what he says, because i want to know if you agree with him. >> if we vote for this plan, we'll own the economy with the president. and he desperately needs someone else to blame it on. if we vote against it, he's going to try to say congress blocked his ability to create jobs. >> so, are you better off saying no and screwing the president or joining him and getting blamed? >> they're going to vote no and the president's going to try to blame it on him, and it's not going to matter, because this thing is dead on arrival. >> you're smiling. so it's a smart move? >> the president was in north carolina and gave this huge rally, lots of cheering. kay hagan, the democratic senator for north carolina, a state with almost 11% unemployment, she's opposed to this bill. his biggest problem right now are his own people. >> so you're smart to say -- they're smart. are they smart to say no to
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everything? just let the roads rot, let the bridges fall down, let the president complain about them voting no? >> you can look at their approval ratings and see how smart the strategy has been. people still like the president more than they like republicans and congress, and they trust the president more with economic problems than they trust those in congress. this is exactly why politicians shouldn't be political consultants. you could roll that tape again and again and again. they would rather win an election than do something for the people in this country, than give tax can cuts to small business, tax cuts to veterans, tax cuts to folks who have been chronically unemployed. >> here's a problem for the democrats and why republicans are probably doing what you recommend them do. here are some democrats' comments about the jobs bill that just came out. john casey, "i think the american people are very skeptical of big pieces of legislation." senator joe manchin said, "i have serious questions about the level of spending that president obama is proposing here." and north carolina senator, kay hagan you mentioned said we've got legislation that is
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supported by democrats and republicans. i'm going to have to look at it. so you're sticking with your guns here? >> nothing ever happens in politics in a vacuum. and there are voters who are ps in a vacuum. there are voters who are looking at this new stimulus bill. i'm not talking about the hardcore -- >> he's not calling it a stimulus bill. >> i know he's not. >> todd is, though. >> i'm talking about voters in the middle. and they're saying, wait a minute, you passed a bill twice this big just two years ago, you said it was going to create all kinds of jobs, and where are those jobs? if passing a bill twice as big didn't create jobs, why is this one going to? >> that's the first thing -- >> look, you're -- by the way, your counterproposal is hoover, do nothing, right? >> no, this is -- >> don't spend money, don't tax -- >> this is the same absurd argument that was made when the stimulus passed. the question is not do this or do absolutely nothing. >> what is the republican -- it's always cutting taxes. >> john boehner -- >> by the way, that's what this bill does. it cuts taxes. it extends the payroll tax for
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workers. it gives a tax break to employers who hire people. it gives a tax incentive to employers for hiring veterans. and it gives a tax incentive for hiring people who are long-term unemployed. these are exactly the things that republicans have been for forever. and now all of a sudden because it's the president -- >> let's take a look at ed rollins. bachmann campaign manager just a few days ago couldn't say whether he'd like to see bachmann as president. let's listen. he was running her campaign and i asked him should she be president? let's listen. >> i still want michele bachmann to win the nomination. >> you'd like to see her president? >> you know, i think she's a great candidate. i think she's evolved. and i think she will evolve. you know, she's got an uphill battle. she's -- >> would you like to see her president of the united states? >> i would not be -- >> controlling the bomb. >> first of all, i want someone to control the economy. >> but would you make her commander in chief? >> whoever's president gets to be commander in chief. the one that's in there today i didn't have much -- >> you're hedging. would you like to see her commander in chief of the united states? >> if she's elected president she'll be commander in chief -- >> would you like her to be
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commander in chief? >> i have no question she could be a commander in chief -- >> you are so slippery, ed. i know i'm not getting an answer from you. >> you first. how can you defend a candidate for months as her campaign manager to run for president of the united states, all the time being unwilling to say she should be president of the united states? >> kind of reminds me of todd when we used to ask him whether or not he'd support sarah palin and whether he thought she should be president of the united states. >> is it making money? >> i think you can learn a lot from ed rollins' reaction right there. i don't know if he discovered after he got inside that she was utterly unprepared to be president or if he knew it on his way in. i suspect it was the former. i hope it was the latter. >> what is going on? sometimes people take over campaigns, they have no faith in the candidate winning, they just like the game? >> i think with all due respect to ed rollins that some political consultants need to learn it's not about them. if you're going to run the campaign and then quit mid-stream, shut up. you owe an obligation to that person who's been paying you, by the way -- >> okay. so what should he say when i ask should she be president? >> he shouldn't have come on the show. he shouldn't be putting himself
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in places -- if he's not prepared to say absolutely, she should be president of the united states, commander in chief, if she's not going to do that, then don't put yourself in place where you're going to get asked. it's not fair to the person that's been paying you. >> todd's right about that. i mean -- no, he is absolutely right. i don't often agree with him on the show. >> so when does the problem begin? when the guy takes the job, when he realizes she's not up to the job, or when? >> if -- >> well, let me ask you. you said he took the job knowing she wasn't up to it. >> i said i suspect he knew she wasn't up to it. >> do you think that? >> i don't know. >> but once he takes the money he has the obligation to her. it's like a lawyer. you sign up a client, if you quit the client you give up all their secrets. you don't take their opposition research book and give it to their opponent. >> how did i know he wasn't going to defend her? how did i know? >> you're a smart guy. you drop out you can trash them all -- >> it's scary to people who really do believe in these candidates. because they believe in the campaigns. thank you, steve mcmahon. thank you, todd harris.
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when we return, let me finish with why now and not next november is the critical time when voters are beginning to make their big decisions of who to have as our president. by the way, people are really beginning now to think. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. almost tastes like one of jack's cereals. fiber one. uh, forgot jack's cereal. [ jack ] what's for breakfast? um... try the number one! [ jack ] yeah, this is pretty good. [ male announcer ] half a day's worth of fiber. fiber one. i could not make working and going to school work.
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let me finish tonight with this. the people of this country have begun to make a decision about who they want to lead it. and how and where they want to be led. it's a serious mistake for voters as well as politicians or journalists to assume that the election of 2012 will be held on the first tuesday after the first monday in november of next year. people begin making their decisions. many make it for good long before they walk, ballot in hand, into the polling booth. this is the time i sense people are beginning to make their decision on the presidency. and i have a simple warning. recall what yogi berra once said about the driver who yelled out "we're lost but we're making good time." we should decide where we want to be led before we decide on who we want as a leader. i say this because we have made mistakes before. george w. bush was president for a number of reasons. none having to do with what he ended up doing. he teased us with a promise to exercise humility in the american role in world affairs. teased us with being the guy who seemed more informal, less taken with the trappings of power or of the ivory tower. you recall what we got?
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from w. once he took off. instead of humility we got a neo-conservative agenda fighting wars on foreign lands against a country, iraq, who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with attacking us. we got an ideology in the white house of intellectuals bent on pushing a hard right philosophy that cost us the lives of thousands of americans, tens of thousands of others, and took us deeper into the quicksand of mideast politics and tribal hatreds. w did that. a guy who promised humility in foreign policy, who promised to be the very antithesis of a president who would buy into some hare-brained intellectualism that had our american troops ranging around mesopotamia rooting out baathists in some ideological cleansing operation that we americans have no more competence to carry out than we have a national interest in being involved in. so as we begin choosing our president this time around, it's good to remember the lessons of before. before you go rejecting one alternative for the other, consider what your new favorite is really all about. does he believe what you do about the role of government in american life? does he believe what you

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